Saturday, April 18, 2020

Puffin Boat Company is The Little Engine That Could

An image of me sitting on my mother's lap is ingrained in my memory.  The book was The Little Engine That Could.  You might be reluctant to listen to a children's story for 8 minutes, but the book is eerily similar to our world today.

In the story, a train loaded with stuffed animals and food for children can't make it over a mountain.  The stuffed animals approach passing engines to ask for assistance to get the train over the mountain so the goods can be distributed to little boys and girls.

That mountain is the Corona virus of today.

Many of the engines that pass refuse to help stating they are too important, too powerful, or too essential to stop and help a train with kid's toys and food.  In short, most of the engines are just plain jerks.

I've always thought about our Puffin Boat Company as The Little Engine That Could.  Since 2013, we've been building Puffin Dinghies.

Puffin Boat Company builds dinghies, but we also have acted as a supplier to some very well-known companies including Vineyard Vines, Old Town Canoe, Hinckley Yachts, Back Cove Yachts, Hunt Yachts, Sea Bags, Bennington, and most recently TJ Maxx.

Last fall we received a call from a woman in Portugal claiming that she was a buyer for Homegoods, and TJ Maxx was interested in purchasing a large quantity of our Puffin Dinghies.  We were in disbelief and skeptical, but it turned out to be true.  In fact, they requested 800 units!  Our annual production of Puffin Dinghies is currently less than 100 units, so you can imagine the emotional weight felt as we discussed our capacity.  Here we are, a tiny 8 person operation just trying to hit our deadlines for our other supply partners.  So, we said no.

But TJ Maxx called back and asked us how many dinghies we could supply in 60 days.  After much reflection, we responded with 80 units.  

Boom...we have a purchase order for nearly 80 units; we did our Puffin Happy Dance (a pretty awkward affair).  As customary, we requested a 50% deposit.  Homegoods was not down with that.  The best they could do was Net 15 after delivery...meaning Puffin had to front labor and material costs during production and wait a full 15 days to be paid after delivery. Fronting cash in January for Puffin Boat Company is not an easy thing to do.  But we dug the change from under our couch cushions and behind the dryer, and we agreed to their terms.  

Puffin Boat Company got to work and a team from TJ Maxx came in to monitor our progress and check the quality of our packaging.

Puffin Boat Company was responsible for packaging the fiberglass dinghies for transport to warehouses all over the country.  That was a challenge in itself:

Katie and Teresa with 860 Seafoam Puffin & Packaging Sample

Teresa Making Final Inspection of First Shipment

First Truckload Being Loaded
"I Think I Can, I Think I Can, I Think I Can..." kept running through my head as the first half of the shipment headed for the TJ Maxx distribution centers across the country.  Then, we counted the days until we would receive the desperately needed Electronic Funds Transfer from TJ Maxx.

15 days went by and no payment.   Hmmm...must be an internal issue.  A few days went by, and then I heard that Homegoods was shuttering TJ Maxx due to the Covid-19 outbreak.  Bad news.

Teresa contacted the buyer from Homegoods, and we were told that all payments would be delayed another 90 days, and by the way...TJ Maxx was cancelling the second half of the order.  There were some tears shed.  That was followed by anger.  I called my attorney.  He told me courts were closing, and we could get in line to pursue action.

The irony of the whole ordeal is that all of us thought Puffin Boat Company would let TJ Maxx down.  We didn't think we were good enough to make the deadlines, or that we were smart enough to figure out how to package the dinghies without causing damage.  Many people even asked us why TJ Maxx would even be interested in our little Puffins.

But here we are, like The Little Engine that Could supplying Bennington, Hinckley, Back Cove Yachts, and Hunt with essential parts and pieces, while the big fancy engine can't even pay their bills.

Due to the cancellation, we have a clearance sale on Seafoam Green and Pink 860 and 760 Puffin Dinghies.   You can purchase direct from Puffin Boat Company, and shipping is free to the Continental U.S.  Overstock Puffin 860 in Seafoam Green

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Boating and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

In the Old Testament, the Book of Ezekiel describes four beings that ride out on white, red, black, and pale horses.  The beings represent "Sword, Famine, Wild Beasts, & Plague".   

Until I see this scene at Hamlin's Marina, I'm going to embrace every day I spend at my business keeping the machine running.  I am full of hope that we will all enjoy a very memorable boating season. 

I received a letter yesterday from Scout Boats stating that they were beginning production  again today after a two week shutdown.  Steve Potts, President and CEO of Scout, was quoted in that letter.  He reflected, "90% of people sense fear with apprehension, anxiety, and surrender.  10% sense fear as a challenge, fight and conquer.  I've always looked at opportunities and choose the 10% group."

Hamlin's Marina is doing our best to fight and conquer the challenges of operating in a safe and effective manner.  This past week, we reached the peak infection rate in Maine for the virus, and we dealt with two spring storms bringing a foot of snow, downed trees, and widespread power outages.   Yet, somehow our staff has continued to work to put our customers' boats in their yards and on their lakes.   Somehow our team continues to manufacture seat covers for Bennington Marine, Fiberglass parts for Hinckley Yachts, and custom painted Yamaha outboards for Back Cove.

Our Sales Team AKA "The Wolfpack" is working behind the scenes and making sure that families have something safe to do when the sun comes out.   Sales are being conducted via Text, Facetime, Web Chat, and Email.  Our Dockside Delivery Program has been expanded to include all new and used boats.  "The Wolfpack" has the Green Light to make any reasonable deal happen.

Last week, Mark Hansen, Josh Cottrell, and I thought we might actually see the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.  We decided it would be best if we took one last boat ride during the blizzard.  Of course, we needed a boat big enough to maintain social distancing.  The boat ended up being the Jeanneau 895 which is available now for Dockside Delivery.  Check it out:

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Mike Guerette...Unsung Hero at Hamlin's Marine

Mike's Day Off

Mike Guerette is our Shop Foreman in Waterville.  He's an independent-minded outdoorsman who also happens to be a cracker jack marine mechanic.  Mike takes his job very seriously which is part of the reason our shop was recently recognized by a Worker's Compensation auditor, as "the cleanest marine shop" he had ever seen.  I also give plenty of credit to our Waterville Operations Manager, Tim Dutton.

Mike has spent the past decade attending Marine Technician schools all over the country including Yamaha, Honda, Mercury, and Mastercraft.  Over the past year, Mike has continued to provide our customers with a first-hand look at how we maintain and repair boats and marine engine with his series of "Tech Talk" videos.  

At Hamlin's Marine, we see a lot of smashed props and gear cases.  So whenever I'm on an unfamiliar lake or harbor, I'm always worrying about striking a rock.  I've given our shop plenty of work over the years!  Here's a "Tech Talk" video showing a gearcase being rebuilt by one of our experienced technicians:

One of the things that makes my stomach turn is seeing fiberglass or gelcoat damage.  Often the damage is cosmetic, but it's a terrible thing to see spider cracks overcoming the surface of a beautiful boat.  Mike and Norman explain the process of repairing stress cracks on fiberglass boats in this video:

In normal times, Hamlin's gears up for the Boat Shows.  Did you know that Hamlin's Marine displays at the Boston Boat Show, the Portland Boat Show, the Augusta Boat Show, and the Bangor Boat Show?  Our crew also sets up displays for Sportsman's Shows and prepare boats for our Saturdaze on the Water series throughout the summer.  Mike Guerette captures the crew preparing for the Augusta Boat Show:

Mike Guerette is one of the reasons that Hamlin's Marine is the best marine service center in the State of Maine.  Mike works behind the scenes, but his work has never been more valuable than in times like these!  Thanks Mike...Can't wait to see more "Tech Talk".

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Anti-Social Boating

Image result for anti social

Ted Ross is a legend when it comes to selling boats at Hamlin's Marina.  He's at home with his family in Farmington, Maine but is available by phone or web chat available on our website  Ted can answer your questions, negotiate a boat sale, and arrange delivery all without touching you.

Josh Cottrell is in a highly-secured office in Hampden, Maine.  Although you can't hug him or shake his hand right now, he is available to get you into the boat of your dreams.  Josh shot this video this past weekend of our awesome Do-It-Yourself Boat Show located at 100 Marina Road in Hampden located at the public launch for the Penobscot River (which is open for boating by the way!)

Our service departments in both Waterville and Hampden are open for business with some restrictions.  Check out this video, demonstrating our new policies at our Waterville service department.  Michael Guerette, our Lead Service Technician, has helped spear-head new safety and public health policies at Hamlin's.

It doesn't seem like there's much to do lately except worry, but you can definitely connect with Hamlin's Marina.  Let's all dream about the upcoming warm weather and being on the water!  In fact, with all the travel restrictions and social distancing, I can't think of anything better than wetting a line from a new boat.

Hope to see you all again soon!

Monday, March 23, 2020

Forget Pizza...Have a Fishing Boat Delivered!

Hamlin's Marine Fishing Team

If you have been paying much attention to the news lately, it's looking pretty grim.  I mean who would think that we'd need to contend with a deadly virus, government gridlock, and the G.O.A.T. leaving for sunny Florida all in the same month?  One might wonder if the Massachusetts lock-down today is a desperate attempt to keep Tom Brady in New England.

Yes...we have serious issues to contend with, but Maine's Governor Mills gave us all something to cheer about!  She has declared open water fishing early to encourage people to get outside and do something fun and productive.  You don't even need a fishing license from now until April 30th.  Follow this link for complete details:

Hamlin's Marina can deliver a fishing boat right to your door if you live in Maine.  We have some incredible offers right now including extended warranties and some huge discounts on stock boats.  Check out these deals:
New 2018 Alumacraft MVT1546AW

This Alumacraft is set up to fish with pedestal fold down seats, modified V hull for stability, running lights, and is pre-wired for a Minnkota trolling motor.   Unique to this model is a 5" tunnel in the hull which allows you to run the Yamaha F25 in really shallow water.  The entire package with trailer is yours for just $7995 + tax delivered to your door!  Check out this link for more details:

New 2019 PolarKraft Frontier 179WT

Our most popular full-windshield model with canvas full enclosure to keep you warm and socially distant is the Polarkraft Frontier 179WT.  This beast is wide and deep and perfect for trolling for Salmon and Togue.   Have this fully loaded package with Yamaha VF115 and Ezloader trailer delivered to your door for only $29,995 + tax.

Please visit our website to see our full line of new and used boats.  You can contact our sales force, negotiate a deal, and pay over the phone.  We deliver!

Thursday, March 19, 2020

The Bangor Boat Show is Cursed

Nobody Likes Boating on Sesame Street

Last Year's Bangor Boat Show turned out to be a disaster for the local boating community because the Cross Center made the mistake of double-booking the venue during the Holy Day for boaters in Central and Northern Maine.   Sesame Street Live stole the show on Sunday, and boaters all over Maine went into mourning.

Naturally, all of us at Hamlin's Marina formed a strong distaste for any puppet or plush animal for quite awhile.  Life is unpredictable...I never thought something like Sesame Street Live could have such a negative impact on the boat business.  

Enter 2020, and an invisible enemy is shaking every business to its core.  The Bangor Boat Show is cancelled this weekend.   First Sesame Street and now Corona Virus...the show is definitely cursed!

Better than Sesame Street

It's my mission right now to ensure that people can still look forward to boating in the coming months.  Our showrooms are open in Waterville and Hampden, and we have special incentives from the manufacturers to keep America rolling.  In Hampden, we have set up a Candock run with a huge selection of 2020 Bennington pontoon boats lined up in the marina parking lot located at 100 Marina Road, Hampden Maine next to McLaughlin's Restaurant.

New Lime Green Accent on Swingback Model
Benningtons Being Set Up for Display in Marina Parking Lot

Bennington Pontoons for Miles

Looking forward to seeing people again at Hamlin's Marina!  Things are getting better every day, and we can't wait to see the boats on the water again.

Monday, March 16, 2020

This Docking Might Make Your Boat Look Bad

About a decade ago, I was in Ireland and saw Candock for the first time on the Emerald Coast.  It looked like a long, flexible snake across a tidal flat.  I could see that it would be the ultimate solution for the 15 foot monster tidal conditions at Hamlin's Marina.

Fast forward until last fall, and I was in Sherbrooke, Quebec at the Candock plant.

Tyler Learning Installation of Docking integrated with a Jetslide
I've probably been on more plant tours than 99% of the world population, so I am not easily impressed.  After I put on the safety glasses and earplugs, I was prepared to be bored out of my mind.  Not so with Candock.  The plant and the people running the plant reminded me a scene from "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory".  The family that runs this plant goes all over the world to install custom on-water modular docks that look cool and add fun to the boating experience.  I've never met people so excited about docking, and it is contagious.  

Hamlin's Marina is now Maine's distributor of Candock Modular Floating Systems.  I never thought docking was that cool.  To me, it was always a necessary evil to get to your boat.  Docking was something I had to maintain when the Penobscot River ripped the fasteners out and snapped wooden boards during extreme tides, or when a discourteous yachtsman ignored the No Wake Zone. 

Check out this video demonstrating the flexibility and stability of Candock:

Hamlin's Marina is upgrading our marina with Candock this spring, and I know our slip customers will be as excited as I am.  We used the Candock for our display at the Augusta Boat Show, and people were amazed by the fact it can be customized for any waterfront.  The cool factor of the LED lights in the utility channel was lost on nobody. 


The best part about Candock is that is a more affordable solution to traditional aluminum and wooden docking systems available.   Contact us today for a quote on your custom docking solution: